Queue the duck! Aflac Incorporated (Symbol: AFL), known as the American Family Life Assurance Company until the late 1980s, got its start in 1955 with the vision of three brothers – John, Paul, and Bill Amos – to help protect Americans financially when an illness or accident strikes. Headquartered in Columbus, GA, the company is now the largest provider of individual insurance in Japan and the leading provider of supplemental insurance in the United States. The now-famous Aflac duck was introduced in 2000, and the rest is history.
While Aflac has become a very successful corporation, generating over $22 billion in annual revenue, its true success is demonstrated by what it gives rather than what it makes, keeping with the Amos family’s passion for helping their fellow man. The company and its employees have donated millions of dollars to fund childhood cancer research and support families impacted by it. Other philanthropic efforts and community involvement focus on four areas: health, education, youth, and the arts. They have donated money towards several memorials and museums in support of our diverse history and heritage, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, the National Museum of African American History, and the National Infantry Museum and Heritage Park.
That commitment to diversity can be seen in both its customer and employee base. Women make up more than half of Aflac’s management and nearly 70% of all company employees are women. Minorities account for 40% of the company’s workforce. Aflac engages in the fight against racism and strongly engages in shining a light on America’s rich and diverse history. Over the years, they have been honored with several awards for this, as well as their overall commitment to ethical business practices and their employees. Ethispheremagazine named them among the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the 11th year in a row this past March — the only insurance company to receive this prestigious accolade every year since its inception. They have been included in FORTUNEmagazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for list for 17 consecutive years and FORTUNE’s Most Admired Companies list for 15. Lastly, Aflac has been honored by Points of Light Civic 50 List as one of the most community-minded companies in the US.
According to President and COO Paul S. Amos II in a 2011 interview for Faith & Leadership, although Aflac is not an expressly religious company, it was founded and built upon principles rooted in the Bible. “What we’re saying is, ‘I believe the teachings of Jesus absolutely create the right principles. I believe they’re the right way of treating other people. I believe they’re the right way of acting in this world.’” Leadership stood behind those deeply instilled values soon after the Japanese tsunami hit that year and they were forced to respond to the inappropriate comments made by the voice behind the duck at that time, Gilbert Gottfried. In that same interview referenced earlier, here’s what Mr. Amos reports of the incident and their response:
“Japan is a country of people who believe in honor, who believe in taking care of each other and making sure that they don’t dishonor anyone else. So we knew that we needed to honor the Japanese people by not allowing something like this to happen. So in 15 minutes, we got together — the chief marketing officer, the CEO and me — and we fired him.
We picked up the phone and said we could no longer work with him. It didn’t matter what it cost us to get out of the contract. We could not have someone who would make comments like that stand for our brand.”
Aflac is a prime example of a corporation that truly cares for the community, values its customers and employees, and promotes the well being of all. It is a great example of how one small idea can bless countless lives and change the world for the better. Aflac has become a beacon all over the world today, shining its light on those in need, just as we are called to by our Heavenly Father. For this, we are proud to name them as a Shining Light Company!
DISCLOSURE: Shining Light Companies are exemplary companies who live out the Golden Rule in their business practices, demonstrate strong servant leadership and create compelling value through the products and services they offer. This is intended for general information purposes concerning only the values, corporate culture and business practices of the companies being spotlighted. It DOES NOT incorporate any analysis of the companies’ investment merit based on intrinsic value, fundamental analysis, etc. This must not be construed as investment advice or a buy/sell recommendation. These companies may or may not be included in our LightPoint Portfolios at any given time.